About two weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to Shanghai for Forrester’s first event in China, “Winning the Dynamic Digital Consumer in China”. (To read all about it check out Andrew Stockwell’s blog post here.) At the event I gave a quick presentation about the potential opportunity that retailers have to engage with mobile shoppers in metro China where nearly 100% of online adults have at least one mobile phone and more than four-fifths of those mobile phones are smartphones.
It is critical for eBusiness professionals to put mobile on the top of their to-do’s when creating their China strategy because of the huge opportunity to engage with consumers - and the fact that the market remains vastly underserved. After spending a week and a half in Shanghai and Beijing and visiting American and European retail establishments this proved to be the case - only a handful had any type of mobile offering. A few things to think about when considering your mobile strategy in China:
There are 1 billion mobile phone users in China, but 3G has yet to hit 25% penetration.
Free Wi-Fi is available nearly everywhere – malls, coffee shops, fast food restaurants, train stations and even in some taxis.
Unlike their U.S. counterparts, it is very likely that the first connected device for consumers in China is a mobile phone and not a PC.
There are specific opportunities for successful mobile campaigns. 39% of Tmall and Taobao’s sales combined were made on mobile devices on Singles Day (China’s equivalent of Cyber Monday).
Android is the highest adopted operating system by far.
I'm still riding a high from Forrester's first ever event in China two weeks ago on March 20th entitled "Winning The Dynamic Digital Consumer In China" (#ForrForum). Approximately 200 marketing, eCommerce, and strategy executives, along with a fantastic cadre of leading agencies and marketing technology vendors, participated in the event. Via myriad content, networking, and business development conversations, it's clear that both the challenges and opportunities to engage, market to, sell to, and serve the Chinese consumer are considerable.
I've spent the last few days reflecting on my key takeaways from the event, and wanted to summarize them for you below.
Today hybris announced it has secured an additional $30M in funding from two Silicon Valley VC giants (Meritech Capital Partners and Greylock Israel). This funding comes only 18 months after hybris took a significant funding round from Huntsman Gay Global Capital to secure their acquisition of iCongo in August 2011. Despite an unprecedented period of growth over the past two years the firm has remained profitable. So why has hybris taken this additional round of funding and what does it mean for customers, prospects and partners?
It allows hybris to retain independence while growing credibility and market share. This additional round of funding buys hybris a window of security to maintain their independence in the market, allowing them to focus on R&D and scalable expansion without the distractions of the need to do an IPO or the threat of acquisition. By adding two leading VC firms as investors, the firm is clearly signaling to the market their intent to solidify their position as a global leader in the commerce technology market.
On February 28, 2013, India (as part of its 2013-2014 budget) announced that it would increase the excise duty on mobile phones costing more than $36 to 6%, up from the current level of 1%. Forrester believes that this increase will not affect the mobile industry in India very much because:
Sub-$100 smartphones will trigger new kinds of competition in the market. As high-end mobile phones get more expensive, Forrester predicts that smartphones costing less than $100 will be in much greater demand. Moreover, handset manufacturers will absorb a large portion of the price increase to sustain their sales.
Explosive mobile Internet growth. With increasing urbanization and improving per capita income, more people will begin to use the Internet, and the use of smartphones will rise quickly. We forecast that the mobile Internet user base in India will grow by more than 30% year-on-year over the next five years.
Addicted social media youngsters. With more than 61 million Facebook users, India ranks as Facebook’s third-largest audience in the world after the US and Brazil. Half of these users are between 18 and 24 years of age, and the majority of them use their mobile phones to connect to the world.
Rapid eCommerce growth complementing the mobile sector. Forrester estimates that eCommerce revenues in India will increase more than fivefold by 2016, jumping from US$1.6 billion in 2012 to US$8.8 billion in 2016. Mobile-friendly sites from various players and eCommerce website aggregators will help accelerate mobile Internet adoption.
2013 is going to be a fascinating year for retail in Europe.
When I look at what’s to come this year, I can paint a picture of what Forrester predicts by looking at a tale of two brands. Both are iconic, heritage British brands that have responded to their increasingly digitally enabled consumers in two very different ways. Naturally, this has resulted in two very different levels of success.
...but I’ve spoken to a number of eBusiness executives in luxury retail companies over the last 12 months or so, and by and large they share a similar frustration. For the most part, their senior management remain resolutely defiant in the face of the opportunity that digital brings.
Which is arrogantly short-sighted, when you consider that luxury shoppers are:
Young. Shoppers who buy luxury products online in the US are almost ten years younger on average than regular online shoppers. Globally, online luxury shoppers are more likely to be tech-savvy thirty-somethings rather than brandy-swilling boardroom bumblers.
In a recent blog post of mine, I mentioned that Forrester had launched the Retail eCommerce Playbook. This playbook provides a structured framework to guide eBusiness professionals through their most strategic initiatives in eCommerce – from creating a vision to benchmarking results against peers.
It’s not a secret that consumers are constantly connected to the Web and it’s having a huge impact on how they research and buy products in every sector. As such, it is imperative that eBusiness executives have the appropriate tools and knowledge to execute a strong web presence that not only showcases their brand but also enables shoppers and store associates to research and buy. We crafted this playbook to address all the key elements of success. This playbook will help you:
Discover the importance of a best-in-class eCommerce business by providing eBusiness executives with insight into the opportunity for eCommerce, its growth trajectory, and the current landscape that retailers face as they continue to navigate this channel.
As the annual retail pilgrimage to the Jacob Javits Center draws to a close, I started wondering if anything has changed since last year. As I met with Forrester’s retail clients during the show, it was clear that this is no longer just a brick-and-mortar show. The retailers I met with had all sent a delegation of cross-functional executives, including the CIO, COO, CMO, SVP of eCommerce, and head of store operations. These leaders are no longer working in organizational silos: they know that they need to find technology solutions that meet the needs of today’s digitally connected customer, not the needs of their legacy channel-centric business units. I was impressed at the way these retailers are embracing and executing on agile commerce.
On the expo floor, the same theme was abundantly clear. NRF has evolved to become a retail commerce show, not just a retail technology show. Joining the incumbent store systems and POS vendors were all the enterprise eCommerce solution providers, order management vendors, system integration firms, and digital agencies. Whereas last year was all about mobile, with hastily developed prototypes and lots of vaporware, this year the expo floor was a place more grounded in reality. Strategic relationships were abundant, with vendors realizing that customers are demanding integrated solution suites that go far beyond the scope of their own product portfolio. As I did my rounds of expo floor booth visits, executive briefings, and product demos, here’s what I found:
The rapid growth and ubiquity of smartphones has led many to conclude that a significant portion of Internet activity, including shopping, will migrate to these mobile devices. To help eBusiness professionals in retail get a better sense of the real size and opportunity that exists, Forrester has released its “US Mobile Retail Forecast, 2012 To 2017.” Retailers beware: while mobile commerce is growing and undeniably shifting how some consumers buy, the pertinent facts are that:
Total US mobile retail is still small. Forrester estimates that of the 132 million US mobile Internet users in 2012, only a quarter of those users have ever made purchases via their phones. While we expect the retail mCommerce penetration rate to double by 2017, it’s still a tiny portion of eCommerce — and, consequently, a minuscule share of overall retail.
Significant impediments exist for mobile retail. The main road block to mobile sales is the checkout experience; it’s the single most important feature when it comes to driving conversions on mobile devices. Adding an easy checkout experience, like PayPal Express, will enable users to more easily convert – even with the smaller screen – but how much that moves the needle remains to be seen.
Consumers prefer the mobile Web to apps, despite retailer investment. Consumer awareness of and/or interest in retail apps is low: Only a tiny share of any given retailer’s shoppers appears to download their app. Most shoppers who access a retailer’s mobile presence get there by clicking on links from mobile search engines or from mobile emails.
In the recently published report “US Online Holiday Retail Forecast, 2012” Forrester estimates that US holiday season online retail sales will grow 15% from 2011 to 2012. While the number of US online holiday shoppers is expected to grow very little compared with last year, the average US online shopper will spend about 12% more than last year. But, as my colleague Sucharita Mulpuru shares in her blog on this topic, consumers are harder to impress this year. Satisfying the expectations of online shoppers during the holiday season is crucial to the Q4 success of retailers.
This holiday season, consumers are more likely than ever to visit a website before buying gifts; in fact, it will be the channel of choice for many. Retailers already go big on promotions, but if they don't have their basics in order — such as search, navigation, and checkout — customers will quickly move on to a competitor to find that great deal.